Five Links #037
4000 wolves; now let’s dance
Skin in the game..
I loved this short, punchy interview with Nassim Taleb.
It resonates with one of the main reasons I don’t do much public markets work any more; I got tired of that greasy feeling that comes with dealing with corporate advisors, brokers, and even corporate lawyers, that shill advice to others while never putting their own money at risk.
Much easier to bathe in the free shares on offer and still take a fee along the way.
There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, so long as you pay the price. A used-car salesman speaks well, they’re convincing, but ultimately, they are benefiting even if someone else is harmed by their advice. A bullshitter is not someone who’s wrong, it’s someone who’s insulated from their mistakes.
There is less “skin in the game” today than there was fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago. More people determine the fates of others without having to pay the consequences. Skin in the game means you own your own risk. It means people who make decisions in any walk of life should never be insulated from the consequences of those decisions, period. If you’re a helicopter repairman, you should be a helicopter rider. If you decide to invade Iraq, the people who vote for it should have children in the military. And if you’re making economic decisions, you should bear the cost if you’re wrong.
(via the Curious Bunch)
I have a phobia of wolves..
If ever I’m stressed, and I need to remind myself that everything will be okay, I like to watch this clip.
And in a similar vein how handy is this peptalk generator?
Everybody says your hair today rains magic, now let’s dance.
(apologies – I’ve forgotten where I got this from)
Like a modern day Sisyphus, but with email..
I read one of my favourite books for the year this past fortnight.
For a long time now, when someone would ask me for a book recommendation, I would recommend the Antidote by Oliver Burkeman. It’s a book that mostly just considers how to adopt principles of Stoicism in today’s culture - which is all about cheerleading and presenting an image of success at all costs.
I heard about 4000 weeks from Curtis McHale. It sounded interesting and so I bought it. By about chapter 2 I was loving it, and when I checked up on the author I discovered it was by my man Oliver Burkeman. This bloke just gets me.
So now when somebody asked me for a book they might enjoy, I can say anything by old mate Oliver is gonna be good.
“Here’s one way of putting things in perspective: the first modern humans appeared on the plains of Africa at least 200,000 years ago, and scientists estimate that life, in some form, will persist for another 1.5 billion years or more, until the intensifying heat of the sun condemns the last organism to death. But you? Assuming you live to be eighty, you’ll have had about four thousand weeks.”
“From an everyday standpoint, the fact that life is finite feels like a terrible insult, “a sort of personal affront, a taking-away of one’s time,” in the words of one scholar. There you were, planning to live on forever—as the old Woody Allen line has it, not in the hearts of your countrymen, but in your apartment—but now here comes mortality, to steal away the life that was rightfully yours.
Yet, on reflection, there’s something very entitled about this attitude. Why assume that an infinite supply of time is the default, and mortality the outrageous violation? Or to put it another way, why treat four thousand weeks as a very small number, because it’s so tiny compared with infinity, rather than treating it as a huge number, because it’s so many more weeks than if you had never been born? Surely only somebody who’d failed to notice how remarkable it is that anything is, in the first place, would take their own being as such a given—as if it were something they had every right to have conferred upon them, and never to have taken away.“
Wait, that can’t be right..
And let’s go all out on the Momento Mori theme, shall we?
Still one of the most popular links of this newsletter has been the Wait But Why chart showing your life in months. It’s a great chart because it shows the average life expectancy and allows you to identify where you are on that average journey, how far you’ve come since passing the major milestones of your life, and it presents the path that seemingly lies ahead.
I’ve since stumbled upon a similar tool that takes that average path and introduces probabilistic distribution. I don’t know if that’s the right term, but essentially the distribution shows that sometimes the little marble that is your life goes all the way to the end of the path, most of the time it falls somewhere along the average, together with all the other marbles, and sometimes, scarily, it falls well short.
Something about seeing your marble fall ahead of the average you feel you’ve been promised certainly brings things into perspective.
(via Mental Pivot)